Reaching Remote Villages

A letter from Inge Sthreshley serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

June 28, 2015

Write to Larry Sthreshley
Write to Inge Sthreshley

IndividualsGive online to E200412 for Larry and Inge Sthreshley’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D505045 for Larry and Inge Sthreshley’s sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).

Dear Friends,

Recently we received an email from the head doctor of a remote health zone in the West Kasai Province of Congo with the subject line “Thanks and deep gratitude.”  Neither Larry nor I have ever met Dr. Emery Mwah, yet he writes:

“Very happy to share with you my deep gratitude for all you have done to improve the health conditions of the Mikope health zone, especially for the land cruiser pickup for transporting medicines and also for the baseline nutrition study that we are currently undertaking. Thank you, Mr. Larry and Mrs. Inge.  We will all do our best for the complete success of this project in our health zone.  May Jesus Christ shower you with his blessings and accompany you.” 

I was very touched by this email and I wanted to share it with you because from my perspective this is a thank-you to each of you who have contributed over the years to our sending and support through the PC(USA). Your support makes it possible for Larry and me to work in the Congo and your support is helping to bring better health care to the approximately 189,179 people living in the Mikope health zone.

One of the nutrition survey teams interviewing a family and taking anthropometric measurements of the children under 5 years of age in the household. The data was entered into a survey form loaded on smart phones using ODK (open data kit).

One of the nutrition survey teams interviewing a family and taking anthropometric measurements of the children under 5 years of age in the household. The data was entered into a survey form loaded on smart phones using ODK (open data kit).

The baseline nutrition study Dr. Emery refers to is a recent study we undertook with staff from the national nutrition program (PRONANUT) and staff from the two health zones of Mikope and N’Djoko Punda. The study of 900 households in each zone gives us a baseline by which we can evaluate the impact of our nutrition interventions in these regions in two years time.

It took the nutrition team four days to travel to the Mikope health zone—one day to fly to the provincial capital of Kananga and three long days of driving over difficult roads to reach the health zone office at Mikope. Once the nutrition team arrived at their destinations, the logistics of carrying out a nutrition study in these two zones were extremely challenging. Many of the villages, which by nature of a study had to be randomly selected, could be accessed only by motorbike. At one site the team had to hike in 30 kilometers by foot.  Another village could be reached only by river and a seven-hour canoe ride.  In one location the team learned that a woman would have to walk or be carried for five hours to reach a health facility where she could receive maternity services in the event of a difficult birth.

The more I listened to Esperant and Mbuyi recount the challenges of doing this nutrition study,  the more I understood why Dr. Emery would be so thankful for a four-wheel drive vehicle that could help transport medicines to and within his health zone.  The vehicle and medicines are provided by the ASSP project, funded by UKAID. (ASSP stands for Accès aux Soins de Santé Primaires, or Access to Primary Health Care.)  Larry is seconded by Presbyterian World Mission to IMA World Health to direct this project that is working to improve health services in 56 health zones in Congo, serving a population of over 9 million people.  A project that is helping medical personnel like Dr. Emery better serve the needs of their communities.  The financial gifts you have faithfully made to our support have made it possible for us to be here in Congo over many years. Without your gifts, Larry would never have developed the wealth of experience he has in delivering health services in Congo that enables him to direct the ASSP project today.

A nutrition team crosses one of the many rivers in the health zones to reach a village for surveying

A nutrition team crosses one of the many rivers in the health zones to reach a village for surveying

This brings me to another email, one we received from Hunter Farrell, director of Presbyterian World Mission, which expresses a deep financial need. As you know, throughout much of the world Presbyterian World Mission has missionaries working in partnership with ecumenical partners focusing on three critical global initiatives, addressing the root causes of poverty, supporting evangelism work, and working for reconciliation. Hunter wrote, “Due to shortfalls in contributions in 2014, we are facing the prospect of having to recall up to 45 mission workers over the next two years.” Hunter has asked us to share this current financial forecast with all our supporting churches and friends so that you may be aware of the real financial need that exists for Presbyterian World Mission to continue to place missionaries abroad.  You can read his full letter at the following link: This is the first time in our 28 years of working for Presbyterian World Mission that missionaries seeking reappointment are unable to be reappointed due to a lack of funds.

There are many “Dr. Emerys” around the world working under difficult conditions to improve the lives of people in their communities. Collectively we have the opportunity through missions to come alongside and support them in their work and to bear witness to the love of Jesus Christ.  Thank you for your prayers and financial support. Please continue to give to our support and consider how you might increase your giving to our support and Presbyterian World Mission.  Our prayer is that God would continue to be glorified through our joint efforts to serve Him.

Inge Sthreshley
The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 147

And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who are of the household of faith  (Galatians 6: 9-10).

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